As the Grishaverse continues to grow on screen and more characters are added, fans are curious to know more about the stars bringing Netflix’s Shadow and Bone to life. Based on a book series by Leigh Bardugo, the show stars Jessie Mei Li as Alina Starkov.

“I’m not particularly concerned with fulfilling fans’ expectations,” the actress told Evening Standard in March 2023 of her role, ahead of the second season premiere. “As far as I’m concerned, an adaptation is an adaptation and if you like the books, read the books.”

Explaining how their character changed from the first to second season, Jessie shared that the first season arc was Alina “accepting who she is and accepting her responsibility and not hiding from her truth,” while chatting with Netflix Life.

“Season 2 is about what she does with that responsibility. And it was really nice to play that [emotional] journey, whilst also holding on to what her core [is],” she added. “The parts of her that make her this lovable character that we all root for. That needed to stay the same no matter what situation she was in. So it was quite challenging to play but really fun at the same time.”

Of course, they’re not the only star bringing the characters from the page to the screen. Jessie is joined by tons of actors, including Ben Barnes who plays The Darkling.

“I think that the trust that you have to build up for scenes of conflict is very much the same that you would have to build up for doing romantic scenes,” Ben told Nerds & Beyond in March 2023 about how he and Jessie’s chemistry comes through on screen.”It exists in the same kind of space. A lot of that is talking about your hopes and dreams for each scene and for the season as a whole.”

He added, “Coming back for a second season, we obviously had that dynamic built up from that sort of more sizzling chemistry they have in the first season and that head-to-head they have in the second.”

These two stars aren’t the only ones who became friends in real life. The entire Shadow and Bone cast is still close when the cameras stop rolling.

Scroll through our gallery to uncover the cast’s real ages and birthdays. 

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